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issue: January 2007 APPLIANCE European Edition

European Appliance Industry
On Location: BSH Introduces New Washer


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by Paul Roggema, Europe Correspondent

APPLIANCE magazine was on-hand when BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH used the new Munich soccer stadium as a venue for presenting its wares to almost 10,000 German, Swiss and Austrian white goods retailers.

Among the product introductions: the Logixx 8 Sensitive horizontal-drum washer, which may be one of the most advanced washers on the market. The premium appliance, sold under the Bosch and Siemens brands, was designed with three significant innovations. These include a new stain removal system, a new drum with variable mechanical washing power and a larger drum capacity (8 kg instead of the usual 5 to 6 kg) within the same standard 60 cm width.
The stain removal system allows the washer to be set to one of 14 different stain types, and the wash cycle will be adapted accordingly. Blood stains, for example, are treated with a long, cold pre-wash. The user is expected not to mix the stained items with the normal laundry, but to collect other items with the same fabric as the stained item and wash a lighter load. The washer control adjusts water usage accordingly and provides detergent-use guidance to the consumer.
Teardrop-shaped structures on the drum surface and the agitator paddles have an asymmetrical shape that is steeply inclined versus flattened. This is engineered to provide a mechanical wash action that is smooth in one direction and powerful in the other, allowing for a much shorter washing time with robust fabrics. Long wash time is seen as a primary disadvantage of European horizontal-drum washers. Americans are shocked when they see the 120-minute cycle time for a 60°C load.
The third innovation is the large drum size. BSH engineered the unit with more advanced drum balancing and a sensor system to precisely monitor the drum’s position in 3D space. The resulting level of advanced control means the tub needs less room to move within the outer casing. As a result, the drum could be enlarged up to 8 kg without expanding the outer cabinet size.
What set BSH off in this design direction? “Customer research gave us several clues,” Carsten Stelzer, chief technology officer of Laundry Care, tells APPLIANCE. A SENSUS study, for example, revealed that 54 percent of those asked preferred a capacity of more than 6 kg.
“The large drum was quite a challenge,” Stelzer says. “Consumers want shorter cycles (the current 2 hours for a 60°C load is just too long); they want to wash larger items and larger loads while maintaining energy efficiency; new fabrics need new programs; and the stain removal needs to be improved.”
According to Stelzer, enlarging the drum within the same casing size and then combining it with 1,600 rpm spin speed took a lot of development effort. “To allow variable mechanical wash movements, we designed an asymmetrical inner drum surface and asymmetrical paddle shape,” he explains. “In one direction the shapes are fluid, in the other they are steeper. So with robust fabrics, movement is stronger, allowing for shorter cycle times. The larger drum now has more advanced movement prediction with new sensors (Hall-type) and new algorithms. The larger drum allows for more room when washing iron-free fabrics, and there are new programs for outdoor clothing with protective layers. And then there is the stain removal system: 14 extra program adaptations for specific stains.”
While some features are not new—Electrolux, Samsung and LG also offer 8-kg drum washers—the combination of features is unique for BSH.
And the market response has been good. “Reaction from trade partners was very positive, and we also got a very good press in the general media, especially for a laundry care product, which is usually low-interest,” Stelzer says. “Production for [2006] is sold out.”
This may have something to do with the price point. Some models have a street price as low as 800 euros—not that much for European top models, and much less than the current large-cabinet Whirlpool and BSH models.
“Research showed that few European consumers are willing to spend more than 1,000 euros for a washing machine,” Stelzer says.  “Our current large washer, sold in the U.S., would be too expensive in Europe. Competitors have learned this too. Retooling for this design was cheaper because the machine can be manufactured on existing lines.”
The machines are produced in BSH washer plants in Nauen, where the company invested more than 90 million euros for the new line. Plans are to export the washers worldwide.
Stelzer confirms that the features on this unit will be added to BSH laundry appliances sold in the U.S. Additionally, Asian markets are moving to front-loading washers and are also buying large-drum units, so this washer will essentially be a global appliance. “In China, we are a leader in the drum washer market, and these products will further strengthen our position,” Stelzer adds. “In general, we think that it will take competitors a certain time to bring similar features to the market; remember that you have to redesign your drum as well as your factory.”
 One may speculate that this innovation may be serious ammunition in a battle against the Whirlpool Duet models, which are also German-designed and manufactured.

 

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